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Volume 11 Issue 2

Biopsychosocial predictors of legal problems among psychotic persons: Implications for law enforcement and criminal justice

Schwartz, R. C., Kautzman-East, M., Macey, P., & Chopko, B. A.

Law enforcement officers, and the criminal justice system more generally, encounter psychotic individuals at a high rate due to legal infractions committed consciously or resulting from symptoms of the disorder. The purpose of this study was to determine whether a broad range of biopsychosocial symptoms predicted more severe legal problems. In addition, we studied whether a biopsychosocial model could predict the likelihood of demonstrating versus not displaying recent legal problems among psychotic persons (N=170). Although several symptoms were correlated with legal problem severity, multiple regression and logistic regression analyses revealed that family relationship problems were the primary predictor of psychotic individuals' legal problems. Implications for law enforcement and criminal justice are summarized.

Grammatical differences between truthful and deceptive narratives

DeCicco, A. J., & Schafer, J. R.

Law enforcement officers rely on the veracity of written statements from witnesses and suspects to determine guilt or innocence. This study examined the predictive value of grammar structures to differentiate truthful written narratives from deceptive written narratives in the English and Spanish languages. Experiment 1 examined three variables amongst English speakers: total word count, text bridge ratio, and spontaneous negation ratio. Experiment 2 replicated the methodology to assess the efficacy of the three variables in predicting veracity in the Spanish language. Participants in experiment 1 and experiment 2 watched a digital presentation of a person shoplifting an item from a convenience store and wrote truthful and deceptive narratives regarding the shoplifting event. The results of the study showed that deceptive narratives contained significantly fewer words, higher text bridge ratios, and higher spontaneous negation ratios than truthful narratives.

Measuring benefit availability for officers: The error in perceptions of what is offered and its effect on conclusions

Lambert, A. D., & Steinke, C. M.

Understanding police officers' perceptions of their employee benefits is essential to making sure they receive the support they need to be successful. A number of researchers have analyzed the link between what has been termed benefit availability and job and family variables. This article contends that these researchers may not be measuring benefit availability, but instead are measuring benefit awareness, and that the difference between these two concepts has important implications for researchers and police departments.This research reviews previously employed measures of "availability," and results and implications derived from these analysis. Using a newly collected sample from state police officers with measures of both availability and awareness, estimates of the error rate between measuring benefit awareness and benefit availability were calculated and used to adjust correlations from other research to demonstrate the differences in results when benefit awareness is measured instead of benefit availability. The difference between benefit availability and benefit awareness may explain some of the inconsistencies in previous research of benefit availability. It also may indicate that departments need to focus more on how information is disseminated to officers than on providing more benefits.

The association between presentence risk evaluations and sentencing outcome

Jung, S., Ennis, L., Brown, K., & Ledi, D.

Presentence risk evaluations are routinely submitted to judges prior to sentencing with the goal of guiding treatment recommendations and informing sentencing decisions. Empirical research has yet to examine this association. In the present study, the correspondence between presentence risk evaluations and sentencing outcomes was explored using the files of 165 offenders who had completed LSI-R, LS/CMI, and/or HCR-20 protocols. We found that sentencing outcome was associated with risk assessment scores, particularly from the Level of Service Measures. This study's findings suggest that presentence risk evaluations have a strong association with the sentencing decisions of the judiciary, suggesting that sentencing procedures may reflect evidence-based practice.

Expectations for defendant emotion

Heath, W. P., & Grannemann, B. D.

Participants (N = 160) read scenarios in which a defendant's guilt status (guilty, not guilty); type of emotion judgment made (feeling, displaying); and defendant/victim relationship (husband and stranger) were varied to determine their influences on expectations for defendants' emotional responses. In a second experiment, we presented these same variables between-subjects to 324 online participants. In a third experiment, 329 online participants provided expectations for a defendant's crying behavior when defendant gender, guilt status, and defendant/victim relationship varied. Generally, more emotion (e.g., sadness) was expected when a spouse versus stranger was killed, but only when the defendant was not guilty. Expectations varied with defendant gender and participants' self-reported emotionality. The implications of having defendant emotion expectations are discussed within a wrongful conviction context.